Saturday, July 12, 2014

Out of nothing, nature makes something.

Reposted from 2013... big changes coming, time to learn adaptation skills....   -AK


Excerpt from the book Out of Control, by Kevin Kelly

Out of nothing, nature makes something.

First there is hard rock planet; then there is life, lots of it. First barren hills; then brooks with fish and cattails and red-winged blackbirds. First an acorn; then an oak tree forest.

I'd like to be able to do that. First a hunk of metal; then a robot. First some wires; then a mind. First some old genes; then a dinosaur.

How do you make something from nothing? Although nature knows this trick, we haven't learned much just by watching her. We have learned more by our failures in creating complexity and by combining these lessons with small successes in imitating and understanding natural systems. So from the frontiers of computer science, and the edges of biological research, and the odd corners of interdisciplinary experimentation, I have compiled The Nine Laws of God governing the incubation of somethings from nothing:
  1. Distribute being
  2. Control from the bottom up
  3. Cultivate increasing returns
  4. Grow by chunking
  5. Maximize the fringes
  6. Honor your errors
  7. Pursue no optima; have multiple goals
  8. Seek persistent disequilibrium
  9. Change changes itself.
These nine laws are the organizing principles that can be found operating in systems as diverse as biological evolution and SimCity. Of course I am not suggesting that they are the only laws needed to make something from nothing; but out of the many observations accumulating in the science of complexity, these principles are the broadest, crispest, and most representative generalities. I believe that one can go pretty far as a god while sticking to these nine rules.

Distribute being. The spirit of a beehive, the behavior of an economy, the thinking of a supercomputer, and the life in me are distributed over a multitude of smaller units (which themselves may be distributed). When the sum of the parts can add up to more than the parts, then that extra being (that something from nothing) is distributed among the parts. Whenever we find something from nothing, we find it arising from a field of many interacting smaller pieces. All the mysteries we find most interesting -- life, intelligence, evolution -- are found in the soil of large distributed systems.

Control from the bottom up. When everything is connected to everything in a distributed network, everything happens at once. When everything happens at once, wide and fast moving problems simply route around any central authority. Therefore overall governance must arise from the most humble interdependent acts done locally in parallel, and not from a central command. A mob can steer itself, and in the territory of rapid, massive, and heterogeneous change, only a mob can steer. To get something from nothing, control must rest at the bottom within simplicity.

This blog is supported by ads and donations. If you enjoy this blog please consider supporting it with a contribution via PayPal.